covered

i love layers.

chocolate cake and buttercream and chocolate cake again.
coats and cardigans you peel off as the day warms.
the shades that surface as you come to know someone.

bon iver covering peter gabriel.

i found the track not too long after i found the blue hour, and i will happily let both color the start of my weekend.

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wild

it was a sight to see
so many people come from wherever they came from
to gather in the desert to see one simple flower

multiplied to stunning effect.

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these flowers are fiercely protected

only so they can grow wilder

more riotous and blowsy

and i like that idea.

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if you are anywhere near southern california, go soon – before the blooms fade in may.

it’s just two hours outside of the city i call home
so you just might see me back there on another of these weekends
perhaps this time with a picnic basket in hand.

antelope valley poppy reserve
15 miles west of lancaster
park hours: sunrise to sunset

fudgy chocolate cake

aside from what is essentially a glorified bag of groceries (timtams, sweet chili sauce, golden syrup, cordial), my most treasured souvenir from my trip abroad is a glossy cooking magazine, its pages filled to the brim with australian recipes. it delights me in a way that a pair of ugg boots never could. i pinched it off the rack while in line at a woolies on our last night in surfers paradise – the store near closing, the lines long – because i recognized the picture on the front cover.

deep, dark, and cloaked in ganache, it was the chocolate cake i had made just a few weeks before. you would think one would avoid paying out a few heavy coins for a magazine with an old recipe in it, but i took it as an indication of the publication’s quality instead – because this cake was deliriously good.

the cake itself is dense and sturdy like a brownie, and just moist enough to make a cold glass of milk fairly optional. and the ganache – well, there’s nothing like the magic of dark chocolate and hot cream. you could serve the cake at room temperature, when the ganache is at its prettiest, but personally i think a thick wedge of it is best cut straight from the fridge, so the frosting is cold and firm and melts only when it hits your tongue.

below is the recipe, fine-tuned and converted to american measurements (with the help of this website). when i made it, i had also slathered a fluffy mocha icing to rest just underneath the slick of ganache. but while the fluffy texture was a happy complement, something goofy happened when i one-fifthed the recipe, so you can experiment with your own third layer as you please.

in the meantime, i will go investigate the other 153 pages of themagazine and hopefully return shortly with good news of caramel slices and anzac biscuits and sponges layered with berries and cream.

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Fudgy Chocolate Cake
converted and adapted from this recipe by Angela Nilsen
Good Food magazine, April 2004
also in
Australian Good Food, April 2010

7 oz. good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids {I used 15 squares of a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar}
14 Tbsp. butter, cut in pieces
1 Tbsp. espresso powder
2/3 cup self-rising flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ½ Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 medium eggs
5 Tbsp. buttermilk

{for the ganache}
3 ½ oz. good-quality dark chocolate
½ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

  1. Butter a 10-inch springform pan and line the base with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Break the chocolate in pieces into a medium, heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the butter pieces. Dissolve the coffee granules in ½ cup of cold water and pour into the pan. Warm through over a low heat just until everything is melted – don’t overheat. (Or, melt in the microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring well after each interval.)
  2. While the chocolate is melting, mix the two flours, baking soda, sugars, and cocoa in a big bowl, mixing with your hands to break up any lumps.
  3. Beat the eggs in a bowl and stir in the buttermilk.
  4. Now pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is well blended and you have a smooth, quite runny consistency. Pour this into the pan and bake for 1 hour 25 to 1 hour 30 minutes – if you push a skewer in the center, it should come out clean and the top should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit). Leave the cake to cool in the pan (don’t worry if it sinks slightly); then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Make the ganache: chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Pour the cream into a pan, add the sugar, and heat until it is about to boil. (Small bubbles will form around the edges.) Take off the heat and pour hot cream over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

  6. Pour the ganache over the cake, letting it fall down the sides and smoothing to cover with a palette knife. The cake keeps moist and fudgy in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

a trip, fall

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i’ve returned from a journey over seas and across years, or so it felt.

i am not one for big weekends or late nights, stumbling into the next day with wild stories in hand and unexplained pictures on the camera.  if you know me, you know this.  even if you were to have just met me, i’m pretty sure you would still know this.  instead i am one for sitting by the window and dreaming, listening to the rain and thinking, quietly shuffling around the kitchen – or the pages of a book – and wondering at my life with the volume turned down low. it’s what the experts call absurdly introverted.

so when i say that after coming home, things have gotten quiet around here – it means they’ve been really, really quiet.

the trip was an important one. i saw friends i hadn’t seen in five years’ time.  friends whom, when i left them, i couldn’t be sure i’d ever see again.  time folded onto itself a bit while i was there, and i remembered more than i thought i did: who i was then and who i hadn’t yet become.

and to process all of this since i’ve been home? well, i’ve done nothing, almost exclusively.

aside from going back to work, which has involved some extraordinary snooze button-hitting and high-heeled feet-dragging, i’ve been taking comfort in little meals and favorite tv programs – to a pathetic extent. and my crazy-high level of self-esteem compels me to share the details now.

(yes, i do believe this little write-up is about to take an unfortunate turn.)

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food & tv pairings for the travel-weary

drive-thru hamburger on the road home from the airport
ice-cold coke
half of
gossip girl
before wilting into my blankets

a lamington, surprisingly moist and pillowy after being carried over the pacific in my suitcase
teeny glass of milk
castle

crispy fried squid with spicy salt
thick toast doodled with honey
how to make it in america
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there is some (anti)social anthropology that can be done here, i’m sure.  you can get to work on that while i go dig up an episode of—